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Combine mobility with barcode and RFID data capture.

 

PanatrackerRT is a mobile RFID-enabled Item Tracking solution combining RFID, bar code, and wireless mobility. PanatrackerRT has a server component that provides web-based reporting and centralized data management. The system tracks detailed history and inventory movement, as well as the position and availability of every item unit. The handheld platform offers an easy-to-deploy opportunity to gain control of high-value items. Key benefits include:

  • Tracking tagged items on shelves, racks, pegs, or almost anywhere
  • Capturing detailed history for each unit of inventory
  • Providing your workforce with real-time inventory status
  • Improving labor efficiency by speeding cycle-count activity

PanatrackerRT is ideal for item tracking requirements and can be customized to meet specific business processes and integration requirements. It is a cost-effective option for testing the feasibility of RFID data capture and item level tracking within various environments. Contact Panatrack to discuss our pilot program or your specific project requirements.

About RFID

The term RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) describes the use of radio frequency signals to provide automatic identification of items. RFID is similar to bar code technology with additional benefits such as:

  • Non-contact, non-line-of-sight reading.
  • Read/Write capabilities.
  • Ability to function under a variety of environmental conditions.
  • Provides a high-level of data integrity.

 

A barcode system uses a reader to read a bar code label. RFID uses a reader and special RFID tags or labels that are attached to the item. RFID often co-exists with a barcode data capture system. An RFID system typically includes the following components:

  • An RFID transponder or tag that contains data about an item.
  • An antenna used to transmit the RF signals between the reader and the RFID device.
  • An RF transceiver that generates the RF signals.
  • A reader that receives RF transmissions from an RFID devices and passes the data to the host for processing. (This may be a fixed portal or a mobile handheld computer with RFID reader.)
  • Application-specific software to manage the information.

 

When evaluating RFID for solving a business process problem, consider the following:

  • What data do you need to encode?
  • Where will the data be read?
  • Are there physical or environmental constraints in the area data will be read?
  • Will the object be moving when read?
  • How fast?
  • What is the required read range?
  • How often will the data be read?
  • Is unattended operation a requirement or offer a benefit?
  • Do you want to write data back to the data carrier?
  • Will the data carrier be out of the line-of-sight?
  • Will the data carrier be subjected to surface contamination (paint, dirt, etc.?)
  • Do you need to read multiple data carriers at one time?
  • Are you being mandated to implement RFID to you primary customers and would like to identify how to implement this technology throughout your business operation for maximum return on investment?

 

RFID is constantly changing. Adoption is still relatively new. Barcode technology will probably always be more cost-effective; however, RFID opens the doors to automation and mobilization of data capture where barcode technology is not as effective.

Confused? Much of this is just easier to explain over the phone. Feel free to call us to discuss your specific circumstances.

RFID readers and tags come in a variety of form factors to suit your specific circumstances.

Pros and Cons of RFID Technology…

Advantages of RFID Technology:

  • RFID technologies do not require line-of-site reading. Tags can be read while in a box or mounted inside of product packaging.
  • RFID tags can hold more data than 1D bar codes.
  • RFID tag data can be changed or added.
  • RFID tags are more effective in harsh environments where barcode labels cannot be used.
  • Multiple RFID tags can be read simultaneously.

 

Disadvantages of RFID Technology:

  • Cost.  Barcodes cost less than 1 cent, yet the most optimistic cost for RFID is eventually 5 to 10 cents per tag.
  • RFID signals may have problems with some materials.  Metals and liquids can cause problems reading RFID tags.
  • RFID does not require line-of-site, but is also restricted by it.  An RFID reader will read ALL tags within its range.  With a barcode reader, the specific item is scanned and read, allowing you to single-out a specific item.
  • RFID tags can fail.  Although barcode labels can fail also, when reading an entire pallet of product at one time, how do you know if there are damaged RFID tags?  How are these exceptions handled?
  • RFID tags cannot confirm that they were NOT read. This concept is confusing, but we believe it is the most limiting issue when dealing with RFID. Stated differently: in most cases when using RFID technology, you cannot know that you were unable to read a tag. Consider several tagged items within a box passing through an RFID reader. You may read many of the tags, but you typically cannot know that you missed one or more tagged items. Other methods are sometimes employed to attempt to bypass this limitation and attempt to confirm that a tag was missed. (For example, in an RFID portal, an electric eye will know that something passed through the portal. If a tag was not read, then an alert is presented in order to indicate to the operator that one or more tags were not seen. However, this only indicates that something should have been read, but does nothing to confirm it.)

 

These advantages and disadvantages lead towards specific cases where the use of RFID can be immensely useful, and others where it proves to be poorly suited. Give us a call to discuss how you are considering applying this technology. We'll give you the straight answers based upon our experience.

Examples of our RFID solutions

  • For a well-known appliance manufacturer, Panatrack custom-developed an application for reading RFID-tagged product during a year-long pilot to prove the value of RFID across the supply-chain.
  • Panatrack implemented a system to track and record inbound RFID-tagged items and provided control to put-away locations for a Fortune 500 distribution/retailer. The system also records damage and inspection steps.
  • Another Fortune 500 big-box retailer turned to Panatrack to implement an in-store trial studying the feasibility of handheld RFID technology to track DVDs. PanatrackerRT offers item-level tracking that includes tag programming, shelf inventory to maintain restock levels, and “last seen” reporting to assess selling locations. This solution involved integration to their inventory management system, custom software development, RFID prototyping, onsite installation, training, and support.

 

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